A Varied thrush was spotted on the annual Breeding Bird Survey.

On the Wing : Singing Birds, Bears and Muddy Roads

Sandhill Crane chicks have hatched; tiny, golden birds run around their parent’s ankles as they feed

So far so good. It’s been a successful nesting season for many birds. Sandhill Crane chicks have hatched; tiny, golden birds run around their parent’s ankles as they feed in the long grass and the songbirds are busy feeding fledged young.

It’s so great to know that the world turns as it should. With all the negative news about climate crisis, we forget that wildlife still has a chance and if we stop to catch our breath in our busy lives we can observe that the berries are about to ripen, the flowers are out in their glory both in cultivated gardens and in the wild, birds are singing in the morning and small ‘pile perch’ are shining under the boats down by the wharf.

I hardly ever, maybe never, take time to dawdle, but now following the summer solstice is as good a time as any. A visitor recently asked what were all those large, colourful bushes with the red and magnolia blossoms in local gardens.

I hadn’t noticed them until they were pointed out, yet how could I miss them?

Rhododendrons are big bushes with big flowers. It’s been a good year for them. The wild strawberries also look promising although the weather needs to dry out so they can fully ripen and the huckleberries will be ready soon. Birds eat berries.

We just completed our annual Breeding Bird Survey from Sandspit to Mosquito Lake on that wild, muddy, wicked road to Moresby Camp. Ouch.

We’ve run the route for 10 years or more, the forest destruction gets worse and the run-off from the barren earth during the recent rains made the trail treacherous.

What we found helped to keep our spirits up — a Townsend’s Warbler fed a fledged bird a tiny moth; a Red-breasted Nuthatch fed its chick something it had foraged from under the bark of a tree. Orange-crowned Warblers were so busy they almost landed on our shoulders and the hectic foraging of the Tree and Barn Swallows proved that their young are just about to leave the nest.

The Pacific Wrens set up a mighty chatter all morning, the Song Sparrows insisted that we get out of their way and all the while the song of the Varied Thrush continued to lead the forest choir. The birds will return to their home territory every year and will keep doing so until their forest is gone.

Where were the bears? We usually see two to four each year on this survey but there was no sign at all and no scat on the roadway. Then we met Jags at his ‘Beanstalk’ the next day.

He had wonderful shots of a mama bear and cubs that vanished into the forest on his approach. They were very far away from anywhere we had been. It was good to know they are still around on this good earth.

Haida Gwaii Observer
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